Tuesday, August 31, 2021

LAUDABLE FROG

A friend in Illinois made a video. Now, being myself easily bored -- short attention span which many obsessives have -- it is quite unusual for me to watch friend-made videos, limiting myself mostly to music in the background, or Hong Kong cookery when I'm cleaning up briars, as a means of pacing repetitive hand motions. So have I watched it.

While lightly reaming a pipe which I intend to smoke later in the day.

Considering what the video was about, that was appropriate.

A light casing of plastic and solvent.

With hints of Latakia.


THE DIRTY SOCK FIRE


[SOURCE: King Frog Morton: Does it live up to the name?. Video is age restricted and only viewable on Youtube.
Because anything tobacco upsets parents (and bores children). Go there -- Open link in new tab (right click).]



What he's enjoying is lip-smackingly good, but it's NOT the tobacco he's mainly talking about, which isn't. I get the distinct impression that 'King Frog Morton' is rather frightfully ghastly, and not even anywhere close to Frog Morton, a much loved McClellands product that people have been going batty over since the manufacturer closed their doors early in 2018.

Frog Morton by McClellands was a mild-medium English, pronounced Latakia nose.
Woodsy, but mellow and sweet enough that it appealed to many people.

There's an article about McClelland here: Farewell McClelland -- by Chuck Stanion

From 1977 till 2018, McClelland kept people happy.

[A replacement suggestion from the internet: Ghost of Frog Morton. Recipe: Equal parts Lane HGL and Stokkebye No. 17 English Luxury. Lane HGL: Toasted cavendish with some Latakia, Burley, and a blondish Virginia. A sweet full smoke, not heavy. Mild, with notes of caramel and raisins. Stokkeby No. 17 English Luxury: Mild Virginias and black cavendish, with Burley and Latakia, a classic. A mild-medium English, slightly sweet. Noticeable Burley.]


I've smoked everything they made, including some pressed Virginias that had notes like a fine wine, and enjoyed them. I've also stashed a few tins for a rainy day, some of which are over two decades old. But I do not lament their passing. Things come and go. There's tonnes of good stuff to stick in your pipes, from several different companies, which will give you bliss and trigger your nearest and dearest, especially the health-freak vegans and Berkeleyites among your kin, and if you've lit up a nice bowl of something and it makes you feel like you are in the reading room of your favourite bar-café just off the square, with the soft murmuring from the main room in the background, rain outside and visible from the well-lit table with both the NRC Handelsblad newspaper and the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and only one other reader present, you've hit jackpot. Imagine the faint aromas of coffee and dark shag.


The pipe I reamed was an oldie from Comoy, with an antique glow to the wood.
It's sort of sporty looking, and suggests youth.
Well, to me it does. It's jaunty.
Very San Francisco.



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THE EATING HABITS OF SINGLE PEOPLE

That cheese I mentioned yesterday? Which my apartment mate brought home for me? Yeah, um, perhaps I should have had some right then. All I ate the whole day was a tiny chicken pie at a bakery while enjoying some milk tea. Which, in retrospect, is not a balanced meal.
My bloodsugar is feeling that right now.

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who eat for entertainment, if they feel like it, and those who must have sustenance at regular intervals.
When I came home after wandering around Chinatown, my apartment mate was finishing a truly enormous bowl of noodle soup. So her bloodsugar level was in a happy place.
LITTLE CHICKEN PIE

Not being a breakfast person, what I had before heading out into the wilds of Nob Hill earlier was, of course, a cup of coffee and the pills I take every morning (Atorvastatin, Metoprolol, Losartan, baby Aspirin, dietary supplements). A few months ago I switched taking Amlodipine Besylate to the evening, because it provides a more comfortable balance that way, no achy calves and a bounce in my step late in the afternoon. I twirled yesterday.

All of this is quite immaterial, and boring even.
For you, dear reader, it is meaningless.

My apartment mate gets really grumpy if she doesn't have something to eat when she needs it. Don't get in the way of her when she's heading into the kitchen. If I were a breakfast person, there would be trouble. She's in the kitchen right now fixing herself something, and if I did likewise I would be an obstacle.

While being totally serious about food, I am somewhat casual about it. Planning to head out for a bite later, but I haven't decided what, when, and where. I'm more likely to figure out which pipe to smoke afterwards.
Some pipe smokers tend towards neurotic obsession. While I've always liked the bent bulldog shape, some exemplars are not exceptionally well-thought out representatives of the type. There has to be a certain meatiness, otherwise it simply looks pedestrian.

Coupled with that, an appropriate tobacco blend.
With this shape, one must aim for gravitas.
Nothing silly or experimental.


Should I get off the bus at the top of the hill to have a small bowl while strolling down to Stockton Street? Will I hit up the instateller on Grant Avenue? Visit a bakery for a snack?
That might influence what I have for lunch. It could be a porkchop.
Or maybe something with bittermelon.
Should I bring a second pipe?



We are trim people. In her case, it's a high energy metabolism.
It's like living with a weasel or a meerkat.
I'm more like a slug.



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Monday, August 30, 2021

NOT THAT EXTRUDED FACTORY CRAP

My apartment mate, who is concerned about my well-being despite the fact that she and I are not involved in a relationship beyond the friend level, often buys me goodies to eat. And she knows that Dutchmen thrive on cheese. So there is cheese on hand. It's vicarious Dutchness, much like my scarfing down pastries in Chinatown is vicarious Cantonesity.

My doctor and my cardiologist, both of whom are Chinese American, though that isn't really relevant in this instance, would be shocked and horrified. I'm not sure what the staff at the clinic would think. They are Chinese too, so on the one hand they'd be on the same page as the pastries, but they might be appalled by the cheese. Or, like my apartment mate, have no problem whatsoever with the concept.

The Cantonese, after all, invented the baked porkchop covered with melted cheese on a bed of spaghetti in tomato sauce. Extra cheese gladly added. You just have to ask!

I am surprised that there is no cheese shop in Chinatown.

One is within walking distance, however.


I do not take full advantage of my lack of lactose intolerance.



焗豬扒意粉

It's been ages since I had the cheesy spaghetti porkchop. And no, this does not mean I plan to have one soon. I would gladly watch someone else eat it, but it's too rich for my blood. I am neither a starving student nor a frustrated office worker, and don't have quite the appetite for something so rich and wholesomely delicious. I'd probably get a vicarious frisson watching a nurse scarf it after a long shift, or some auntie deciding screw it all I'm going to enjoy myself, but I'm more likely to have a chop without cheese, or something stewed or stirfried mixed veggies and meats, with rice. And a hearty dollop of chilisauce (sambal).

I am a temperate man, with modest tastes.

Cheese is just a guilty snack thing.

Surely everyone knows that?

All over the Netherlands, and maybe England and France, people secretely rip into cheeses in the middle of the night, when no one is watching. Pass the crackers and melba toast.


It's a way of life.


As an afterthought, I should mention that when I last visited my brother in Utrecht, we ate at a restaurant that specialized in "porkchops Hawaii". Which, it turns out, is a cutlet topped with a pineapple slice and melted Gouda. It might appeal to Italian Americans or Cantonese folks.
But Anglos would want ranch dressing to go with it.
It was okay with lots of sambal.


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IT'S PUMPKIN SPICE TIME!

We're not yet even in to September, and already pumpkin spice things are showing up on the shelves. Because, in the retail world, stuff needs at least two months of availability for it to be worth making. I myself, after one or two tries, gave up on the whole pumpkin spice thing years ago -- pumpkin is not really edible, and one slice of pumpkin pie between now and New Years will do me for the season -- but each time I am amazed at the pervasiveness of the moral decay reaching ever further.

Mary in North Carolina decorates her house and garden with it. She lives for Hallowe'en time.
Trever, a carver of brilliance in the same neck of the swamp who channels for Godzilla, does a series of Hallowe'en briars every year celebrating pumpkins and their spice.
Frank Herbert wrote a six part trilogy about it.


I am still on the fence. As a personal fragrance it does not quite hit the spot, as a Starbucks lattucino flavour it doesn't do much for me, and as a dominant note in pipe tobacco it seems like a fairly good reason for unleashing World War Three.
There are tobacconists out there who believe that pumpkin spice is the seasonal flavour which will put them back in the black each year. And customers who think that one pouch of pumpkin spice tobacco will make having their syphilitic elderly relative indoors during snow storms sort of tolerable. "Surely", they will say, "if Obediah smells pleasantly of pumpkin spice, we won't notice the tobacco or the sweaty frowst from his unwashed tweeds that he's worn since the seventies?"

Good luck with that.



From a vivid comment string on a pipe smokers forum, some other tobacco suggestions for disguising the powerful aroma of Obediah, his festering sores, and those eternally damp discoloured tweeds, in no particular order:

Molto Dolce - caramel, honey, chocolate, and coconut.
Mixture 79 - grandma's lingerie drawer.
MacBarens Seven Seas - wet saccharine Danish funk.
965 Match made with strawberry cavendish.
Vauen Oxford Blend - gummy candies.
Rattrays Exotic Passion - citrus potpourri bathroom deodorizer, orange cough medicine.
Samuel Gawith's Firedance Flake - Blackberry brandy, vanilla, juicy fruits.
Palladin Black Cherry.
Peterson Sweet Killarney - caramel.
Middleton Greenbrier - Menthol.


After several years of you lot gifting him with this shite, Obediah hates you, and has purchased woolen gloves, mukluks, and a Canadian overcoat. He'll take his chances on the blasted frigid moors during the winter months, and will politely refuse that slice of pumpkin pie you put out on the front steps. He's learned his lesson. You (his loving relatives) are vile and irredeemable.
He plans to enjoy the company of loose women and drug pushers while tromping over the heather on Nob Hill in a howling snow storm while little birds and butterflies die.

It will be fun.



My relatives in Canada will probably pleadingly invite me to spend the holidays with them.
It's arctic in Calgary. They are non-smokers.



I am presently enjoying a lovely bowlful of Cornell & Diehl's Derringer in a classic old briar.
This morning, Nob Hill was wreathed in fog. San Francisco can be quite nice when the rest of the state is burning up; we have a different climate, and no forest fires.
When not at work I thoroughly enjoy living here.
Even in winter, when it's cold.



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Sunday, August 29, 2021

PUSHING ENVELOPES THAT SHOULD NOT BE PUSHED

Quite a while back I engaged upon a campaign of tormenting a tobacco purist coworker by smoking all the Sutliff Aromatics on hand. It was quite a voyage of discovery, which taught him that in some ways I'm a ruddy pervert, and taught me that the tears of tortured souls can be delightful. I'd light up a bowl of something horrendous, he'd retire to the far end of the room moaning in terror, and peace would reign.

Actually, he was fairly tolerant of my peculiarities after an initial shock, and I learned all about tongue bite.


Reviews of those tobaccos may be found here: REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLES, BUT SKEWED

There's no way in heck I'm doing that again. I may be Dutch, but that much of a pervert I'm not.


Today was a much nicer smoking day.
Morning: Red Virginia with a touch of Perique.
Delicious.
Early afternoon: Red Virginia with a touch of Perique.
Delicious.
Tea-time: Red Virginia with a touch of Perique.
Delicious.



Most of the time I'll claim to being a puritan and a purist myself, asserting that I shall not touch an aromatic, perish the thought, that way lies damnation and a pact with the evil one. But when Bruce dropped by late in the day, we ended up comparing notes on our favourite degenerate compounds. Ennerdale and 1792 (him) versus Erinmore and Astleys No. 5 (me).

Mostly, both of us tend toward nice clean innocent flue-cured tobacco mixtures however.
But sometimes we indulge in sickening decadence and moral decay.

These are benefits of a classical education.
The tastes of Nero and Tiberius.


Good tobacco should NOT smell like a Roman bath house.
But sometimes, it does.



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THAT OLD TIME RELIGION

My apartment mate has three sisters-in-law. I'm glad that I do not have any Chinese American sisters-in-law. Or actually any in-laws. Dutch Americans (like myself) are also complicated, but not nearly as complicated as Chinese Americans. Which my apartment mate is.

Chinese family matters require eating together.
As well as waging war.

I haven't been a social eater since leaving the computer company years ago. I like eating with other people, but it's a rare occurence. Eating with in-laws might be excruciating.


And I must mention that I've heard there's a church out there with women in bikinis handing out disapproving literature. Which sounds precisely like the kind of crazy shiznit that my people would do. "How do we make all these heretics take our angry pamflets?" "Let's have the ladies of the choir wear bikinis and hand them out! Everybody likes bikinis, right?" "Great idea!"


Beware dour judgemental temptresses!


The other problem with my kind of people and their churches is that people hitch-up within their faith. It's a strong social imperative. I'm neither religious, nor crazy, so that wouldn't work for me. See aforementioned dour judgemental temptresses. Mostly a Dutch thing.

Women in bikinis with meanspirited printed matter?

The way of the lord is NOT bait and switch!


Thank g-d we don't do lutefisk church suppers.

But I strongly believe that Chinese American sisters-in-law could benefit immensely from such Scandinavian delicacies. Glue-slimy fish stuff. With boiled potatoes. A sacramental dish.
Oh boy. Soothes the savage beast. Even a Chinese American female.

I look forward to feeding someone lutefisk sometime.

This could be highly educational.

An awesome experience.



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Saturday, August 28, 2021

THE HAPPY SOUND OF GNAWING

Sometimes you have to tell your stuffed animals that you aren't listening. After an entire day of dealing with "special" people -- because you work in Marin County, where everyone is special, exeptional, super unique OMG, and entitled -- you may not be quite as attentive to the needs of small furballs as they would like. And no, I'm not going to clop some old geezer over the head just to indulge the turkey vulture's obsession with nice corpsie-corpse.

Corpsie-corpse is like fast food tacos. One is excessive.
TURKEY VULTURE

The other evening when I prepared some chau min I forgot to feed him. He didn't notice, because he was at that time being spoken to severely by the teddy bear (who is the senior roomie), and in consequence I got to dine in peace and quiet. Severely chastened, he didn't come back to the teevee room till after I had finished my second helping of ice cream.

He was too distracted to wig-on to the fact that I had had dinner and dessert.
Good thing too; a third helping would have been too much.
I am a man possessed of restraint.

One cannot go around harvesting the elderly to feed the turkey vultures, much as they would wish one to do so. Besides, one complete old fossil would be too much for just one stuffed animal, what would he do with the left overs? Stick 'em in the fridge for a midnight snack?

The thought of waking up to the sound of someone gnawing on arthritic old bones in the middlle of the night is mildly disturbing.


He usually too chipper to demand that I eat breakfast (feed him in the morning). But usually he has a lion's share of my dinner. Tucks in with a healthy appetite. And despite never ever having had delicious nutritious corpsie-corps, he's plump and thriving. A happy bird.

Every household should have a happy carrion eater.
No family is complete without one.



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Friday, August 27, 2021

IT'S GOOD TO BE BACK

Perhaps the most quintessential Chinatown meal is a porkchop something over rice. Certainly my apartment mate -- than whom one cannot get any more C'town -- has a deepseated thing for them; they are a comfort breakfast, lunch, or dinner. But she rarely has them, because she also likes chicken and fish. Which are also very Chinatown. Along with several other things.

But a porkchop really says "this is mine, go away, I'm treating myself".

It's also very Shanhainese Hong Kong. Porkchop noodles.
As well as fast happy food: porkchop in a bun.

A place where I had not been for well-over a year is open for lunch again. The walls have been painted, the floor renewed (old carpet ripped up, new surface), but the same people, same food, same old-timey ambiance. Even the same regulars, who recognized me.

They're two doors down from another porkchop place. And two blocks away through alleys from a third, which will take you past a fourth and a fifth.


They all also do other things, of course, but I associate them with porkchops.


Life looks like life will be good again.



P.S.: A favourite roast duck restaurant is back in business too.



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Thursday, August 26, 2021

LAST PIPE OF THE NIGHT

As I often do on Wednesdays, I dropped by a local bar where I know several of the staff members before the final pipe of the night. Had a ginger ale while observing the crowd (half a dozen people in a place that in pre-pandemic times was packed). A muscle bound gentleman in a leopard print dress that showed off his pecs and his thighs. A painted tranny. One of the local slow people. Two Vietnam vets. One or two others. After an hour I loaded up, left, and lit up.
It was calm, quiet, on the street. Not even a line outside the donut shop.
For me, this is ideal.
The first pipe of the day will often be some time between six thirty A.M. and eight thirty. There aren't many people about at that time, and they're engaged in their own business. For many Caucasians in the neighborhood that seems to be affectionately picking up dog poo, for the local elderly Cantonese it's as brisk a walk as they can muster (I know the feeling, my legs are a bit crappy too), and in the case of 'Auntie with the cheerful pistachio-hued hat', that's actually a pretty good clip. She's used the pandemic time to get healthier and more energetic.


This pandemic has definitely affected people's social reactions. They have become goofier, more discordant, and testier in their behaviour. It's almost like they are unlearning rote interpersonal habits in some ways.

Never having been fully socialized, I find I function better. There are fewer demands on me than before, and routine politeness is natural. Many people seem more human.

Plus the advantage of a facemask is they cannot see what I am silently mouthing, and there's little danger of me seeing their lips forming an obscenity either.


For over a year I didn't go to restaurants in Chinatown. I missed them and the people there, but in passing by I could see that, more or less, they were maintaining. They're still around, with much the same staff. Some people no longer work there, and eventually I'll find out what has become of them and what they're doing now. Masks are common there (except for the tourists, who are blithe), probably because of concern for the elderly and the very young, and a solid common sense realism about disease and infection. Despite tourists (and their exposed breathing organs) I feel safer there than in many other parts of the city.

But actually that hasn't changed.
It was always that way.




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Wednesday, August 25, 2021

WELCOME TO SAN FRANCISCO!

Judging by an article in SFGate, visitors to San Francisco are a bunch of real asshats: San Francisco hotel workers got cheated during the pandemic. Bad travelers are making it worse.
Well, we already knew that. They've been blisters for years.
Most of us wish they would stay home.


Having spent over a decade working part time at a restaurant near Union Square when I was younger, I have an extremely low regard for tourists. Many left horrible impressions of the places they hailed from. Consequently, whenever I've travelled, I've made it a point to be understanding and courteous, behave properly, and tip very well.

As one should. Which most Americans and Europeans don't.


At the restaurants to which I go regularly, staff welcome me. Because I'm patient, and generous with the gratuity. Which ensures that the next time I show up, they are glad to see me. For most restaurants, staff has been reduced because of the pandemic, the remaining employees must work harder and get more done. A tolerant, realistic attitude on the part of guests is required. Which means that sometimes you Yankees might have to wait a few minutes before you get that extra icecube for your co-cola, or another napkin because you dropped the first one.
.
Oh, and if you have several imaginary allergies, please don't come.
No one needs that precious attitude of yours.


AFTERTHOUGHT

What I had for lunch today was a mistake: 港式肉絲炒麵 ('gong sik yiuk si chaau min'; Hong Kong style fried noodle with pork). Shouldn't have ordered that. Too much, and really not very good. It's not something I'll order again. But I thoroughly enjoyed being there, the hot milk tea was wonderful, and there were no tourist at all. Mostly local elderly Cantonese.
I was the only non-Chinese person in the place.

It was lovely.




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FURTHER ADVENTURES IN HEALTHCARE

Today I have an appointment for lower arterial doppler sonography on my right leg. Which will determine whether we send a balloon up into that limb to rotorooter it proper and thus improve circulation. The left leg also, but it is less problematic. Naturally I looked this up on the internet. The Wikipedia article was fascinating, as was the PDF on the www.e-ultrasonography.org site by Ji Young Hwang. Seeing as ninety percent of the people I deal with in pursuit of health are Chinese Americans, and a larger percentage of the folks working at places where I go for lunch afterwards likewise -- the latter often English not so good -- of course I tried to find out what all this might be called in Cantonese.

In pursuit of that data I came across this lovely and instructive video.

TWISTY FLIPPER

[SOURCE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EoOVvGV_aQ&t=102s.]


This clip shows an individual (male) in a hospital setting, communicating with medical professionals. It is very inspiring.


超聲檢查預約

So far it looks like doppler sonography may be 醫學超音波檢查 ('yi-hok chiu-yam-po gim-chaa'; "medical ultrasound waves examination"), and specifying the lower artery makes it 下動脈醫學超音波檢查 ('haa dung-mak yi-hok chiu-yam-po gim-chaa').

Aternatively, 動脈超聲檢查 ('dung mak chiu-seng gim chaa'; "artery super-sound inspection").

I strongly suspect that if I say to the receptionist "ah gu neung, ngo yau go yi hok chiu yam po gim chaa yiu yeuk" (哦姑娘,我有個超音波檢查預約), she will look at me like I came from outer space. Which perhaps I did.


Lunch in Chinatown afterwards, followed by a relaxing smoke.
I've already got the pipes picked out for that.

The turkey vulture is suggesting that I bring him along to the hospital, so that he can visit the morgue for a delicious corpsie-corpse, as surely the hospital must be flowing over with them. He really doesn't ask for much. Just think of him as a "clean-up specialist".


FINAL NOTE

A balloon catheter, for dealing with any blockages, is a 球囊導管 ('kau nong dou gun'). Such a device widens narrow openings or passage ways in the body. It may be the end result of all this. And if it is, I still won't help the turkey vulture snatch body parts.



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Tuesday, August 24, 2021

THE GENERAL'S STOMACH

This blogger was this old when he found out that a Cantonese expression for 'beer belly' is 將軍肚子 ('jeung gwan tou ji'; the general's stomach). Which paints quite the picture. Imagine a warlord with banquets. Lots of banquets. And junior officers with smaller stomachs.

It takes guts to be a warlord.

As well as beer.
Currently smoking something very old fashioned in a pipe that's older than myself, while thinking of those good old days when all doctors smoked Camels or recommended Luckies, which I never experienced, because despite the spattering of salt in my pepper I'm actually rather young. Methuselah hadn't yet achieved anything when he was my age.
He was still a youngster when his grandkid Noah was born.
Barely a few centuries old.

On a different note, my apartment mate still accuses me of being a scrawny bird. Despite the presence of a stomach. Which is minor, but once the body gets a little older, inevitable. Over time she has become slightly more like my maternal grandmother, who joyfully exclaimed over "nice healthy children" whenever she spotted an obese little turd, not realizing that beerguts on five year olds were signs of overfeeding and a lack of self control (probably by its parents).

She's probably more mentally used to me when I was heavier. Which was an earlier time, before two hospital stays two years ago. It never came back, and I do not see any compelling interest for it to do so. I'm perfectly happy being a scrawny old git.

It's all that clean living, boys and girls.
I've never been a beer drinker.
I am not a general.


"More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette. Yes, in a repeated national survey, doctors in ALL branches of medicine, in ALL parts of the country ... "


The best thing to drink while puffing a pipe is tea. Or Scotch. But I've always disapproved of alcohol before the cocktail hour, and I avoid liquor nowadays in any case, so it's tea.
Getting to sleep at night is slightly problematical.

Many doctors are probably tea drinkers.
Military men, not so much.
Just a guess.


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IMPORTANT MEDICAL DATA

Thanks to the miracle of the internet, I recently watched an entire series of short entertaining videos published by the public health office in Hong Kong (衞生署衞生防護中心, CHP, Department of Health, HKSARG) strongly advocating colorectal screening.
It was very almost enchanting. Key take-away: watch your ass.


As you will readily understand, this was NOT what I was looking for.
Colorectal screening wasn't typed in the search field.
It was just a happy result.

Along with a biography of Teng Hsiao-ping (鄧小平) and stuff about cooking and the world's largest centipede, capable of injecting a whole cocktail of neurotoxins into its prey.


When at home I frequently turn to the internet for engaging sound clips while polishing or restoring smoking equipment. It's a good way of pacing the time taken by repetititve hand motion actions.

文化大革命

During the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, any medical attention and pipe stem polishing would certainly have been considered offensively bourgeois, and punishable with self-criticism and physical abuse by students. Having a screenable arse, any health at all, and old briars is, in the final analysis, as far from proletarian virtues as one can get.
Why, it's positively evil landlord capitalist exploitative.
Counter revolutionary.

Arseholes, solid medicine, Teng Hsiao-ping, and Western-influenced literati habits like pipe smoking, came back with the complete repudiation of the Gang of Four (四人幫) and the Cultural Revolution. America, of course, does not need a cultural revolution, as we are notoriously anti-science and opposed to critical reading skills in this country.
So it would very much be a complete waste of time.
We have no 臭老九 here.



The leap from colorectal screening to cultural revolution is quite logical.
It's a very natural sequence of synaptic fires.



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Monday, August 23, 2021

SPECTATOR SPORT

You know that they're local when they're screamingly insane. A raggedy fellow having an angry fight with an invisible person in the park. Over beer. In Cantonese. That's clearly not a tourist from the Midwest. It was in many ways entertaining, especially as the out-of-towners were careful to give him a wide berth -- which may have been his plan all along, I wish I had thought of it -- but also sad, seeing as he so clearly was out of it and at psychological loose ends. Mental fabric all frayed.

When I left the park a policeman was gently interviewing another dishevelled individual. Not confrontationally, just in a firm but understanding way inquiring after his bona fides.
It's more constructive than other approaches.

On the way home, I saw a blonde person being put in handcuffs.
So all in all, it was a great smoke break.



I'm holding it together very well. Probably because I'm insensitive and not particularly social. Nor do I need to watch sports while vocalizing in a group. In that regard I am not a typical male. I'm very well able to not make noise all the time, and I have no need to watch ball games.



There were two games between local teams this past weekend, which was probably very good for pizza sales, as well as beer. Can't remember the teams, nor who won either contest. And because of social limitations imposed by the pandemic, I will not need to listen while other people tediously and in obsessive detail dissect the games.

Honestly, sports and fans bore me. I find the company of such people repellent.
Watching paint dry is considerably more engaging.



So is seeing someone lose a fight with an invisible person.




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BURGERS AND FRIES HAPPY PLACE

Starting four days ago, San Francisco requires customers of indoor dining, drinking, or exercise places, to present documentary evidence that they have been fully vaccinated against covid, in order to protect children, the elderly, and the immuno-compromised. For those of us who are not insane Christian Trumpites, or Libertarians, this presents no problem.

For the benefit of people who might be somewhat English limited, that's a 疫苗接種紀錄卡 ('yik-miu jip-jung gei-luk kaa'; vaccination record card), 疫苗接種卡 ('yik-miu jip-jung kaa'; vaccination card), 記錄針卡 ('gei-luk jam kaa'; record of shots card).


疫苗接種紀錄卡、疫苗接種卡、記錄針卡


The great thing about this is that it will keep tourists and ignorant savages out of the places where I am likely to go. If you are a tourist or ignorant savage (or perhaps from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, or Wyoming) kindly don't breathe indoors here. And feel free not to eat, drink, or exercise either.


There is an area designated for your use, it's tailormade for y'all: Fisherman's Wharf.
We don't go there. You'll probably feel right at home.
They've got burgers and fries.



Better yet, go to Florida! We encourage tourists, ignorant savages, and people from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, or Wyoming, to visit Florida.
They've got Disney World down there.
Plus burgers and fries.
Happy!



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A SANE AND SOBER MAN

Mornings, in this dwelling, can be somewhat noisy. The control monkey (a small gorilla) and the turkey vulture (Sydney Fylbert) were disputing each other, the latter was getting the worse of it, and the one-legged gibbon, who yesterday evening had swatted the avian for drooling over the blue-faced sheep (a respected although somewhat naive member of the household, who looks "juicy"), was chastising the gorilla for being a right blister.

I'm not fully functional at that hour, and I have adult things to do. Make coffee. Take my old man pills. Get the latest international news.

Between the bleats, squawks, and loud protestations, I went about my business. Occasionally throwing out a word of remonstrance.


At one point I went out for a walk with my pipe, to enjoy some peace and quiet. People walking their pipes or their dogs are usually not talkative or rambunctious. None of the small creatures smokes a pipe. They should.


No, it wouldn't make them hobbit-like. Hobbits, per the books and common culture, pipe-huffed utter shite and were, generally speaking, hairy whiny cretins and loud. I didn't like the books.
Tolkien was a genius, bla bla bla, but urgh! Silly longwinded old bugger.

[Hobbit's Weed, for the self-abusing Gandalf wannabees out there, consists of two parts BCA (stoved vanilla cavendish), one part Lane's Very Cherry, and one part Sutliff 1M (vanilla cavendish). It is foul and aromatic. Just like them.]



Quiet time, after the critters have stopped yelling at each other, requires a sound blanket.

上古漢語國際歌

[SOURCE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZBaX4bI6Sk.]


The Internationale in a reconstruction of the Chinese spoken several millenia ago, with a visual overlap of seal script, and rather mangaesque visuals, is a complex Venn diagram of intense nerdiness which speaks to the man within. What is this, he asks, is there a world of ancient scholar fanboys out there? And do they hold co-splay conventions where they act out their favourite bits of Xia, Shang, Zhou, and Qin (夏、商、周、秦) history and literary lore?


Bernard Karlgren, the linguist who pioneered the study of ancient Chinese phonology, did not look like Gandalf, and did not, per the available evidence, smoke a pipe. He may have, but it's not part of his known persona. He did not imagine bandy-legged dwarves with cloaks running around a gothic horror middle earth with antique rings speaking gibberish. He was, from all accounts, a sane and sober man.


He did not attend fan-boy dress-up events.



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Sunday, August 22, 2021

THEY'VE GOT PEANUTS THERE, THAT'S ONE THING THAT'S GOOD FOR YOU

One of the very good reasons to hate Marin County is because there are no street vendors fixing kwee tiau goreng by the side of the road. Imagine that there you are, casually strolling around Lucky Drive, when a peckishness befalls you. You look around. What's this? A random seller of freshly prepared foods has set up across from the Safeway. How splendid! Freshly sauteed garlic. Some chopped beef, mustard greens, chili paste, and cake noodles tossed in a pan over high heat. Some chives, drizzle of soy sauce, scallion, pinch sugar, ground pepper. Add an egg if you choose, finish with a few drops sesame oil. Served hot.

Yeah, no.

Marinites do not eat well. They're all Vegans, or something. Spiritual, and dietarily limited.
They only eat foods that have been approved for white people.

炒粿條 Isn't on the list.



So when I got home today, I headed into the kitchen. Meat cuttings, stalks of mustard green, chilipaste, garlic, appropriate noodles presoaked, chopped scallion and ginger, sweet soy sauce (ketjap manis). Like throwing a lifesaver to a drowning man. Dash of fish sauce.



There is no way of explaining the terror I felt. I was pouring sweat, my blood is too thick for Marin, I've never been able to properly explain myself in that environment.

They're all prehistoric lizards, it's a reptile zoo!
Holy Jezus what are these animals?
Somebody fed them booze.
It's bat country.



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REPUBLICANS, FUNDIES, LIBERTARIANS, AND OTHER BARBARIANS

Yesterday evening's essay was short tempered and heartless. For which I do not apologize in the slightest.

Here are three recent Facebook posts by people I know, who work in fine drinking establishments near my apartment.

A )
"So I just got spit on, the guy saying f*ck your mandates. Seriously, how hard is it to just wear your mask? And yes...they were escorted out."


B )
"If you are from or live in Texas, Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, either Dakota, stay away from US. Visit other redneck states.
I just had 3 "people" throw drinks in my face for asking them to put on a mask. 1 called me a Nazi. All in a days work.
"


C )
"I hit a breaking point tonight. I’ve done everything I can, (for those who don’t know I’ve been working in the bar and restaurant world for the last 16 years) I feel like I can no longer actually reasonably accept those who chose to be unvaccinated without a solid medical reason in my life. I’ve spent the last 18 months doing everything in my power to keep myself and those around me safe. It’s your choice to chose differently, I accept that, but at this point I can’t stand next to you. Who knows what may happen next in this crazy “wave” that Ive considered COVID. What I can and will do is choose to stand by only those who think of the the greater whole. "





Each working day my colleagues and I have had to request visitors to please wear a mask. Most have grudgingly complied -- "oh, I left it in my car, I'll go get it" -- some have feigned deafness, and a few have been complete blisters.


These are shithole states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michichigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

The 'California Policy Center' are a bunch of turds, and probably work for Russia.

Call pest control. We have an infestation.


By the way: if YOUR child under twelve years old is NOT wearing a mask, can we assume he or she is expendable? If so, we commend you on your decision; setting aside funds for college would clearly be a waste of money, and we're happy (overjoyed) you have decided to cease your contribution to the gene pool. Kudos.




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Saturday, August 21, 2021

MIDDLE CLASS WHITE MEN: MOIST TRUMPY GOODNESS

For two days I've been listening to rightwing bullpucky about Afghanistan and masks, and therefore I'm ready for sainthood, seeing as I haven't even cracked a scowl, let alone killed anyone. It's my superhuman restraint, and loving kindness.
Peace, humanity, fellow feeling.

Actually, I don't want to get my hands dirty, I don't know where these pustules have been. They voted for Trump, so syphilis-induced insanity and brain-rot is probably a good bet. Even for the retired prosecutor, who has become a right nazi bastard since marying the Vietnamese American woman. Now that he's getting some, his brain has melted.

The toxic juices, man.



GATVERDAMME DA'S SCHIJT

[SOURCE: A Song Written and Performed by Vietnamese Americans.]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17IvumMYBW0&t=37s


To cleanse your mind after that sewage, enjoy this:


NHẠC DIỄU BINH VIỀT NAM!

[SOURCE: Perky perky perky!.]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pw4iOt8uOdU


Probably the stupidest thing I've heard this work week has been a vaccinated idiot stating that he couldn't wait to get Covid, so that it would strengthen his immune system, and give him antibodies.

Dumbass, that is exactly why you got vaccinated!
You didn't graduate at the top of the class, didya?


For obvious reasons, I try to avoid conversation with these boys.




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Friday, August 20, 2021

SPLENDID CRUNCHY

Why is it that potato chips, when you open the bag, smell like ass? Won't mention the brand, but cool ranch in particular whiffs that way. Sometimes, like with durian, you just have to sniff the other way when eating them. The chips taste better than the bag smells.


Potato chips, as everyone knows, are more nutritious than breakfast cereals. Have them with cheese, fruit, and a cup of coffee for a delicious and balanced meal.


That's probably the last dietary advice I'll give for a while.


In the days when I still indulged in breakfast (my teenage years), it was most often two cups of strong Dutch coffee, some buttered toast with marmalade, reading the newspapers, and heading out afterwards for a pipe full of tobacco.
Splendid for the digestion, that.

The Volkskrant has probably gotten better since then, as has the Endhovens Dagblad. Both newspapers are, remarkably, unavailable in San Francisco. What we have instead is the San Francisco Chronicle. Which is hardly the same. Coffee still has to be made at home, however, because the nearest coffee places are a donut place (faugh!) and a Starbucks (ick poo!). There is imported marmalade, praise be, but I've lost the taste for solids in the morning.
Two cups of coffee, internet news, and a smoke.


My apartment mate, on the other hand ......

I think this morning she had ice cream.
On top of a toasty apple turnover.
And something crunchy.


We live like bachelors. Or college students.



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Thursday, August 19, 2021

UNSUITABLE THOUGHTS

The midnight snack is often regretted the next morning. This should be clear from the number of people in line outside the donut place, or in prepandemic times by the bewitching fragrance of street corner grilled bacon dogs. And the many late-night pizzerias.
What this city needs, obviously, is the donut cheese dog.
It would finally put us on the culinary map.
Goes great with Sriracha.
Or maple syrup.
Ranch.

[Insert fond memories here of Vietnamese food (bún thịt nướng) around three in the morning with friendly drunks and a coke fiend, at the crazy lady's place in North Beach.]


Alas, there are no Vietnamese restaurants open past ten o'clock near my dwelling. The healthy alternative -- carrots and brocolli florets -- are unsurprisingly also unavailable. The lovely smell of grilled bacon-wrapped hot dogs hasn't been around for more than two years, ever since the police cracked down on them.

It's been a while since I had Vietnamese coffee.
I wonder what time Little Paris opens.
Bún thịt nướng for breakfast.



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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

THE INAPPROPRIATE TEE-SHIRT

Doctors, as is well-known, disapprove of smoking. Even if like one medical man I know they're wearing a nicotine patch. Cardiologists are even more so inclined, due to the deleterious effects on the heart and circulation that may ensue. So I think the expert I saw today may have been somewhat startled when, in preparation for the treadmill test, it became evident that underneath my rugged outdoorsman plaid shirt was an advertisement for cigars.

My tee-shirts fall into four categories: computer products from the nineties, spy toys, smoking supplies, and angry red panda office worker.

Only ONE of those categories is inappropriate for a doctor's office.

After it was all over, including the treadmill test ("stress test"), which involved being bare chested, with wires glued to skin in various places -- probably the third time in my life I've been wired to the tits -- we scheduled a lower arterial doppler for next week.
We will find out why my left calve aches after exertion.
It's probably a circulatory issue.
This should be fun.



So. Cardiology appointment, bit of shopping and lunch in Chinatown after getting back from the hospital out in the avenues where the cardio vascular office is, as well as, today, three pipefulls of fine tobacco. Filled and lit up as soon as I was outside. Actually needed coffee or something, probably a bite to eat, seeing as I don't eat breakfast in the morning and it had been over eight hours since I got up, but I don't associate non-Chinese food with leaving medical buildings.
A doctor's appointment, if before lunch, must necessarily be followed with something comforting and familiar. That's just the way it is.
The pipe that followed the medical interlude

There were far more of my fellow Caucasians in the restaurant than I had expected. Seeing as I do not know if they've just come from the plague states or take idiotic risks, I tend to avoid the company of white people. If you've paid any attention to the news these past few months, you know that they're crazy. So I sat well-away from them to enjoy my pork liver congee (豬肝粥), fried oil stick (油條) and milk tea (奶茶). All of which was excellent. I will not mention the name of the restaurant, because while I do indeed want them to prosper, I do not want anymore stupid kwailos in there.
The pipe that followed lunch

Perhaps the next time I'm at the heart office, I should have the angry red panda tee-shirt on underneath. A furry creature having a temper tantrum is probably more appropriate.
I'll save the cigar shirts for the eye doctor appointments.
Nobody will notice them there.



TOBACCO INDEX


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JUICY PROSPECTS

Back in Spring of 2011, when I was still a young man, but sadly no longer in the long-time relationship with a bright snarky woman who is still my friend, I got up early one morning and went to the nearby coffee shop. Where they at that time had a row of computers for rental use by customers. Note that through the plate glass windows of the café the vibrator store across the street was fully framed.

Which caused me to write one of my best pieces: HAM SAP LO.
Explaining the most useful term in the Cantonese language, for the benefit of drunken Australians and Brits in Lan Kwai Fong, acting precisely like you would expect drunken Australians and Brits to act in Lan Kwai Fong.


Readers still visit that essay. It must speak to something within.


Mornings have quieted down since then. When I got up this morning, I had my coffee at home, then went out with a pipe in my mouth to have an early walk around the neighborhood and a smoke. This is especially important today, because due to appointments most of the afternoon, I shan't have much opportunity to be a crusty old fart with a pipe again till later. Probably after lunch (early tea-time).
Maybe beef brisket curry (咖喱牛腩 'gaa lei ngau naam') at a favourite haunt. With hot milk tea. Where the waitress has character and at times a sharpish tongue. Which is fun to witness.
A pipe afterwards will be especially enjoyable.

I've never acted like a drunken Australian or Brit. A sane though slightly crazed Englishman, perhaps. Curry, tea, and a pipe. Not in Lan Kwai Fong either, but SF Chinatown.

Sesame oil chicken (麻油雞 'maa yau gai') might be nice too. Instead. In any case, the tea and the pipe afterwards are yat ding ge. Certain. Packing along two old Parker briars and some rubbed-out C&D Red Carpet.




Lan Kwai Fong (蘭桂坊) is one of those places where after seeing it, you would rather not go again. Drinking establishments catering to ex-pats who tend to misbehave. For some reason some of my colleagues years ago knew the place well. Too well. I suspect that the werewolf in product design as well as the marketing department dudes spent most of their time there.




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